Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 2, 2014

The University of Scranton announced Wednesday that the institution is making "difficult" cuts of $4 million, due to rising costs and a smaller than expected freshman class for the current academic year, The Times-Tribune reported. The cuts involve some layoffs, but university officials declined to say how many.

May 1, 2014

California's community college system today will announce the creation of a smoother pathway for students from 24 of the state's community colleges to eventually gain entry to six law schools in California. The agreement, which was brokered by the State Bar of California, will provide law school-related resources to students at two-year institutions, including financial aid counseling, academic advising and LSAT prep. And the six participating law schools -- which include ones based at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Davis -- agreed to waive application fees and take various other steps to increase the pipeline of community college students.

May 1, 2014

Many black leaders in South Carolina are demanding that Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom apologize for comments he made Wednesday about South Carolina State University, its students and other historically black colleges, The State reported. Eckstrom is a member of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, which voted to lend South Carolina State, which is running out of money, $6 million. Eckstrom abstained from the vote, but in discussion of the university said this of its students: "These are not kids coming from wealthy parents. These are kids that are going there because they can't get into these other schools." Critics say he thus maligned any student who opted to go to South Carolina State, but he says he was referencing only their low financial resources.

He also questioned the term "historically black college" and the idea that states have an obligation to such institutions. "I'm committed to the university because it's a university, not because it's a historically black university," he said. "I think the sooner this state gets away from the concept of talking about historically black universities is a step forward for this state. We no longer talk about historically white universities. I think we need to deal with the issues of funding needs at South Carolina State because it's an institution of higher learning."




May 1, 2014

Adjunct professors at Howard University and the Maryland Institute College of Art are the latest Washington-area non-tenure-track instructors to vote to form unions affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, they announced Wednesday. Those adjuncts join others at George Washington University, American University, Georgetown University and Montgomery College who have formed chapters affiliated with SEIU Local 500. Adjuncts in eight other cities are organizing with SEIU, and unions already have been voted in at Tufts and Lesley Universities in Boston.

At Maryland Institute, adjuncts voted 163 to 75 in favor of a union. In a statement, adjunct instructor Katherine Kavanaugh said: "We were always clear that this process was not about a quick fix for salaries. There are many issues that are critical for educating some of the best art students in the country and we are hopeful that, as a union, we can begin to make those changes with the support of the administration." A spokeswoman for the college said it looked forward to working with the union and was "confident that our adjuncts will continue to join us in making their highest priority the academic and campus experiences of our students.” At Howard, a smaller unit, adjuncts voted 46 to 5 in favor. A spokeswoman for that university said it has an "enduring commitment to excellence in teaching, research and clinical service delivery," and a "long tradition of fairness, and will continue to negotiate in good faith with all represented employees to meet our mission." Both votes still must be verified by the National Labor Relations Board.


May 1, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Lawrence Sherman, professor of criminology at the University of Cambridge, examines the nature of certain law enforcement practices. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


May 1, 2014

With student borrowing rising -- and political concern about debt growing with it -- Inside Higher Ed today publishes a free compilation of articles about the future of student loans. The news and opinion articles -- in a print-on-demand booklet -- explore the impact of federal policies, strategies some institutions are adopting, and the views of thought leaders on the issue.

Download the booklet here.

This booklet is part of a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.

On Wednesday, May 21, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman conducted a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles. To view the webinar, please click here.

April 30, 2014

Franklin University, a private institution in Columbus, Ohio, is planning to buy Urbana University, a smaller private college about an hour away.

Urbana, which reported operating losses and significant debt in recent years has about 1,800 students, including about 400 who live on campus. Franklin is a commuter college with what it says are nearly 10,000 students.

According to Urbana's most recent publicly available tax filing, it’s been losing money each year – its $24.5 million in expenses were $570,000 more than its revenue in 2012 – and has about $18 million in liabilities from bonds, mortgages and bank notes. 

Christi Cabungcal, Franklin’s chief of staff, said her institution likes Urbana's assets, including its campus. Franklin, she said, has developed an international, nontraditional and online market in the past few years, and is now aiming to take advantage of Urbana’s more traditional student population. Franklin is acquiring Urbana’s assets but will not say what it is doing with the debt or even confirm Urbana’s current liabilities.

She said Urbana will operate as a subsidiary of Franklin and continue to issues degrees bearing with Urbana name. Franklin said in the near term it plans to keep Urbana’s sports teams. Franklin didn’t announce changes to Urbana's programs, personnel, salary and benefits or tuition – but reserves the right to in the future.

“We have no immediate plans to go in and make any dramatic changes to programs or to staffing,” Cabungcal said.

Urbana officials did not respond to an email seeking comment.

April 30, 2014

The college and career planning startup ConnectEDU filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday night after struggling to repay debt held by more than 200 creditors.

ConnectEDU offers consulting services and planning and tracking tools to help students through high school and college and into careers that match their abilities and interests. In the petition, filed in a New York federal district court, the company lists between ​$10 million to $50 million in liabilities and less than $10 million in assets. The news was first reported by BostInno.

ConnectEDU becomes the second company backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to run into trouble in the previous week. The company last July received a $499,375 grant from the foundation to build a platform for students to collaborate on learning Common Core standards for literacy. Last week, the student data repository inBloom -- for which the foundation provided millions of dollars in startup funds -- announced its plans to shut down. 

April 30, 2014

Attorney General Mark Herring of Virginia announced on Tuesday that under state law, Virginia residents who qualify for the federal government's "deferred action" program for immigrants without legal documentation can qualify for state financial aid. The attorney general's announcement, which his office made in Hindi and Korean as well as Spanish and English, comes weeks after the state's legislature rejected a bill that would have established a state "Dream Act," won support from Gov. Terry McAuliffe but some criticism from Republicans in the state.

Nearly 20 states have established some sort of tuition equity for undocumented immigrants.


April 30, 2014

The University of California at Los Angeles will return $425,000 and cancel plans to accept a total of $3 million for kidney research from the foundation of Donald Sterling, The Los Angeles Times reported. Sterling is the National Basketball Association team owner whose racist comments have drawn near universal criticism and who was banned for life by the association on Tuesday. In a statement, UCLA explained its decision: “Mr. Sterling’s divisive and hurtful comments demonstrate that he does not share UCLA’s core values as a public university that fosters diversity, inclusion and respect."


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